Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Founding Fathers Were Not Christians?

Well, actually, for the most part they were, but they were smart enough to recognize the need for a separation of Church and State; something Republicans in large numbers today cannot seem to fathom. I found an article in the Daily Kos Diaries that linked to a piece by Steven Morris that is quite interesting. As a Revolutionary Period buff of sorts, I found this article rather interesting.

While the right wingnuts in this country continually attempt to portray the Founders as being desirous of making the United States a Christian nation as justification for the current fundamentalist extremism, this is an inaccurate portrayal of them. As I stated above, the Founders, by and large understood the need to keep religion and politics in separate corners. Going one step further, several of the biggest names of the Revolutionary Period went beyond this.

Allow me to pull a few direct excerpts from Morris' piece:

Thomas Paine: "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of...Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."

George Washington: "He never declared himself a Christian according to contemporary reports or in any of his voluminous correspondence. Washington Championed the cause of freedom from religious intolerance and compulsion. When John Murray (a universalist who denied the existence of hell) was invited to become an army chaplain, the other chaplains petitioned Washington for his dismissal. Instead, Washington gave him the appointment."

John Adams: "Adams wrote 'This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!'"

Thomas Jefferson: I could go on for days on Jefferson's views of religion, as he is my favorite ( I visit Monticello every few years), but I will stick with what Morris has to say. How's this: "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." This comes from one of Jefferson's famed letters to John Adams.

James Madison: Madison writes in various documents, "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise." "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

Benjamin Franklin: Franklin said, "As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion...has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his Divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the Truth with less trouble."

So, there you have it; some of the greatest minds and leaders of our history were either opposed to Christianity or wanted it to have no place in the governmental framework of this nation. Can the right wingnuts quote any larger figures from the Revolution than Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin? I think not.

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